Daily Fantasy NASCAR: What You Need to Know for the Cup Series' All-Star Race
The NASCAR Cup Series' All-Star Race is coming up on Wednesday, and it's going to have a different look to it than usual.
The big one is that the race will now be in Bristol rather than Charlotte. The first Bristol race this year was a thrill, and the world could use more short tracks.
That one will have a DFS impact, which we'll touch on in just a second. The other change has nothing to do with DFS, but it'll still be pretty fun.
Underglow lighting indeed coming to the #NASCAR All-Star Race @BMSupdates.
More: https://t.co/Tn86CnxaGM pic.twitter.com/NIFNY6V6ya
— Zack Albert (@zack_albert) July 9, 2020
The locked-in cars will have an underglow, and the configuration of the numbers on the side will be different, too. Let's get weird, everybody.
Again, that's got nothing to do with DFS, though. So let's run through what you do need to know for DFS before filling out lineups for Wednesday night's affair.
1. There Will Be 140 Scheduled Laps
If you're a regular NASCAR DFS player, you know the role the number of laps in a race plays on strategy. The longer the race, the more incentive there is to target drivers up front who can lead laps and rack up FanDuel points.
Wednesday's going to provide us with a dilemma there. There are only 140 scheduled laps between the four stages, which isn't overly long. But due to the nature of Bristol, it may still be important to emphasize finding at least one driver who will run out front and dominate.
A regular lap at Bristol takes less than 16 seconds to complete. So, under green-flag conditions, if a driver holds the lead for just five minutes, they'll have already led almost 20 laps. This will likely lead to the laps led being concentrated between just a few drivers, and with at least 14.0 FanDuel points available for laps led, that can make a difference in our rosters.
As a result, we're most likely going to want at least one driver per lineup who is starting near the front of the grid and is capable of leading laps. This way, if that driver does snag the lead, we'll be able to benefit and add some cushion. Laps led are likely to matter here even without a ton of laps in the race itself.
Outside of our lap-leaders, though, we will want to focus on finding place-differential drivers. They're going to have the best floors, and their path to upside won't be dependent on running out front. That's a plus for us.
We'll get some assistance in that department via the method of setting the starting order.
2. The Starting Order Will Be Set by a Draw
For most of the time since the end of the COVID-19 layoff, the starting orders have been set by a combination of owner points and a draw. This kept the top 12 cars in the top 12 spots for the race, even if we didn't know the exact order.
Here, the entire field will be set by a draw. It's possible the fastest car in the race will be starting all the way in the back. If that happens, we should capitalize and load up on that driver.
As mentioned, the drivers starting further back are going to be the ones with the least resistance en route to a big score. As such, we should give them a major boost in our minds and make them our core plays for tournaments. The drivers up front are the tournament plays who need things to break a specific way to play out.
This will be especially key for any value plays on the slate. The lower-salaried drivers will be less likely to lead laps, so their only route to upside is by scooping place-differential points. Finishing points will matter, too, so you shouldn't just haphazardly pick drivers starting further back, but we should give preference in our minds to all drivers -- especially value plays -- who draw toward the back of the pack.
3. Only 16 Drivers Will Be in the Player Pool
The current field for the All-Star Race is drivers who have won a race since the start of 2019, past All-Star Race winners, and full-time past Cup Series champions. With the way things have broken, only 16 drivers are qualified, and those are the lone 16 drivers in the player pool (NOTE: Cole Custer is not currently in the player pool on FanDuel, but it seems safe to assume he will be added by Wednesday night. He would be the 16th driver.).
By the time the green flag drops, four additional drivers will be in the field (three stage winners in the All-Star Open and the winner of the fan vote), but -- assuming FanDuel plays things the way they did last year -- those drivers will not be added to the player pool. That's a good thing for your mental health.
If they were to have those drivers available, you would not be able to fill out lineups until after the Open race had concluded. Those drivers would be high-quality DFS plays because they'd be starting in the back, and you'd want them to be the focal point of your rosters. Now, you can fill out lineups whenever the starting order is set and not worry about the Open.
That's why it's a plus from a stress management perspective. It will require some tweaks to our strategies, though.
The first is that it does give some more value to drivers starting up front who can lead laps. If a driver starts 16th and finishes 1st, that's 7.5 FanDuel points for place-differential. That's equivalent to 75 laps led, something we could see happen. If you get a driver to lead just 40 of the 140 laps, that's equivalent to eight place-differential positions.
As a result, although we do want to still focus on the drivers starting further back, we have wiggle room to sometimes plug in a second driver starting near the front. If our two front-starters both lead laps, we're going to have a big leg up. It's definitely a riskier strategy, but if you want to hit the jackpot, it'll be necessary at times, especially if a number of strong cars start near the front. Our default roster construction should be one lap-leader followed by place-differential candidates, but we should deviate at times and plug in a second potential dominator.
Second, the smaller player pool means we're going to have to try extra hard to differentiate our lineups from the pack. Each lineup will roster 31.3% of the field, and that number goes down if you lop off any names due to talent or starting position. There are going to be a bunch of duplicated lineups in tournaments.
As such, if you want to take down a tournament without splitting the pot, you need to be really different. This means actively searching for drivers you think may be overlooked and leaving salary on the table -- potentially a lot of it. The more salary you're willing to leave on the table, the more different possible lineup combinations you give yourself.
This is going to make you a little queasy because if you're trying to play things straight up, you're going to have sub-optimal plays in there. That's not a bad thing.
Any All-Star Race is going to be wild. There are no points on the line, and the winner gets a million bucks. That can lead to recklessness.
That'll be even more true with the race in Bristol, a spot that is prone to chaos to begin with. This year's spring race saw multiple drivers crash while fighting for the lead, and 30.0% of the field failed to finish. Your lineup may not look good on paper, but when the brown stuff hits the fan, even the optimal lineups could sprint to the trash.
Basically, don't be afraid to get weird. The race itself figures to be wild, and our lineups should account for that. This is a unique event, so find a driver (or sometimes two) you think can lead laps, hunt for drivers with some poor draws, and see what you can do to make your lineup different from your competition.